Only a few Days left to See the Loutherbourg Exhibition in Strasbourg

6/2/13 - Exhibition - Strasbourg, Musée des Beaux-Arts - It sometimes happens, though a rare occurrence fortunately, that we visit exhibitions which arouse our enthusiasm but that we nevertheless, for reasons mostly related to an abundance of artistic events, do not present timely enough on The Art Tribune.

1. Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg (1740-1812)
Shipwreck during a Heavy Storm, 1769
Oil on Canvas - 97 x 130
Dieppe, Château-Musée
Photo : Didier Rykner

2. Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg (1740-1812)
The Defeat of the Invincible Armada
Oil on Canvas - 215 x 278 cm
Greenwich, National Maritime Museum
Photo : National Maritime Museum

This is the case notably this winter with the retrospective staged by the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Strasbourg on Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg. It was organized in conjunction with the publishing by Editions Arthéna of the excellent monograph written by Olivier Lefeuvre. We will return in detail to this work as well as the artist in the article he deserves and limit ourselves here to a quick description of the show which we warmly urge you to go see if you have not yet had the chance to do so.

The exhibition opens with a Self-Portrait of the artist, a genre he did not particularly favor in his production. Relatively heavy set, with an air of bourgeois pride in his social status, it does not really convey his particularly agitated and dissolute lifestyle, played out both in England and France.
The first rooms devoted to his French period reveal a very talented landscapist, close to artists such as Jean Pillement and Jean-Baptiste Hüet, even going so far as to execute "pastiches" of his elder, Joseph Vernet (ill. 1). The influence of the Dutch Golden Age is also obvious in this student of François-Joseph Casanova, a painter who also gave him the taste for representations of battles.

This beginning might give the impression that Loutherbourg does little more, a skilled emulator of the century’s best landscape artists. The rest of the visit on the contrary, shows us that he was one of the most original painters of his time, himself a precursor and source of inspiration to many others.
The exhibition takes a long look at his career as scenographer and inventor (he is credited with designing the Eidophusikon, a device which reproduces atmospheric effects on a theatrical stage). It also presents two large formats which are particularly impressive, residing at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich : Lord Howe’s Victory and The Defeat of the Invincible Armada (ill. 2).

3. Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg (1740-1812)
Young at the Cemetery
Oil on Canvas - 86.3 x 68.5 cm
New Haven, Yale Center for British Art
Photo : Yale Center for British Art

Loutherbourg, a French painter who spent most of his artistic career in England, did not satisfy himself with English influences (this is clearly evident in a landscape obviously marked by Constable) : he was also a model for others and one of the initial Romantics. We see examples with Young at the Cemetery (ill. 3) and The Deluge (Victoria & Albert Museum). Fascinated by natural disasters, he was one of the first to represent avalanches. He undoubtedly deserved this exhibition and this monograph which we will soon discuss further.

Curators : Dominique Jacquot and Olivier Lefeuvre

The exhibition ends on 18 February 2013.

Visitor information : Musée des Beaux-Arts, Palais Rohan, 2 place du Château. Tel : +33 (0)3 88 52 50 00. Open every day except Tuesday, from 10 am to 6 pm. Admission : 6€ and 3€.

Internet website for the museums in the city of Strasbourg.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 7 février 2013

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